Opening Statement



Monday, 12 August 2013

Toronto Plaza Hotel Strike: A 1st Hand Report!


This blog has been contributed for our consideration by guest writer Mr. Peter Hasek, a Toronto teacher and union activist. Peter is shown on the frontline pickets with the Toronto Plaza Workers below:


The USW brothers and sisters at the Toronto Plaza Hotel have been on the line since mid-April, and their spirits are still high. I walked with them for about an hour and listened to workplace horror stories that went from bad to worse. These are workers who two years ago gave in after a week on the line, and accepted concessions including a 0% wage increase and complete loss of benefits. They rightly stated that they should be treated with more respect after showing such a sign of good faith.  But that is not the case. 
 
I spoke to the former USW Unit President, Rocky, who picketers told me was one of their greatest defenders against their employer. He was wrongfully dismissed soon before this round of negotiations, and still joins the picketers when he is not fulfilling his obligations in his position on the Executive Board of the Toronto Labour Council. He gave me some details of concessions Mr. Chaudary (the employer) was asking for, including such illegal items as making the USW collect their own dues, and requiring the USW to incur all costs for arbitration. Rocky worked at the Toronto Plaza Hotel for 14 years when he received the email notice of his termination from Mr.Chaudary. 


Strikers picket outside Mr. Chaudary's parents home: He's being a bad boy!

 “I don't care what the public thinks of me.” said Rehan Chaudary, when I suggested he offer a meager cost of living increase in the contract to save face, and not appear to be unreasonable. He stated repeatedly that there was “no money” for any pay increases (though according to picketers he makes patrons pay cash, which is easy to leave unreported). He complained about how much the hotel was costing him, and how he paid to turn it into the great hotel it is today.
 
Mr. Chaudary said that the pay cuts he was making “wouldn't even be enough” to prevent him from having to sell his business. I asked why he would make such a big deal about stripping contracts if they weren't enough to help. “I need to save my hotel” was all he had to say.  I could see negotiations were not Mr. Chaudary's strong suit, so I moved on. 
 
At first he denied calling his employees 'animals', then quickly changed his mind saying it was in response to 'USW thugs' who attended the protest outside his parents house. I would have believed this if it weren't for the fact that the protest occurred after the 'animals' statement.


I couldn't get past the similarities in the language used by this employer and the provincial government in the last year in relation to teachers. The USW picketers suggested that the way Mr. Chaudary operates in the margins of legality might be assisted by government officials, and I wouldn't doubt it. I mentioned that if our leaders let situations like this take place, and not respect bargaining themselves, they are telling employers that Canada is essentially the “Wild West of Labour Rights”. 
 
After this discussion of conspiracy, three of us said in unison, “If they can do it to us, they can do it to anyone.” I guess that's why we all have to keep fighting. Just because (some) teachers only went on strike for a day, that doesn't mean our fight is shorter or less important than that of our USW brothers and sisters at the Plaza. We are fighting the same fight, the fight for our future jobs, and our children and grand children's jobs.


How can you help? Mr. Chaudary's phone number and more info on the strike, along with the poster above to download and share is @ Download here!

COMMENTS?

4 comments:

Doug said...

Hi David and Peter,
This is a great report! I was wondering if you'd both be willing to let me repost it with photos and all at rankandfile.ca. I'd provide credit and a direct link to this blog (School Edition is already on our Links page!)

in solidarity,
Doug Nesbitt
rankandfile.ca

David Chiarelli said...

Sounds good to me. I'll ask Peter if it's okay too!

Doug said...

Thanks! Peter said yes, too!

David Chiarelli said...

Peter says yes too. You can remove the extra instructions for todays rally or I will after it's over. BTW, let's keep in contact by email. I have a few ideas I'm interested in discussing with other progressive social media writer activists in support of the teacher protest movement this fall. Hope to hear from you!

Post a Comment

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!